How prepared is Calgary for major flooding?
If major flooding like the devastation from 2013 hit Calgary again, how would the city fare?
“What if it happened right now? Of course there would be extensive damage but it would be, right now, one third less automatically [because of flood mitigation we have in place now],” Calgary city councillor Ward Sutherland said.
But there is still a lot of work to be done to protect Calgary from future Bow River flooding.
The latest flood mitigation report investigated the best way to fight future flooding and one of the key components found was the need to build or expand a reservoir.
“Very importantly [a reservoir] offers us the opportunity to capture that extreme run-off that can occur from upper mountain catchment, slow it down and release it at rates that are non-damaging throughout the city,” said Frank Frigo with the City of Calgary’s watershed analysis team.
Now the province will conduct an in-depth study into the top three choices, which are a new Glenbow reservoir upstream of Bearspaw, a new Morley reservoir upstream of Ghost Reservoir or an expansion of the existing Ghost Reservoir.
After the year-long study, the province will make a recommendations about what project should be moved forward.
Each is estimated to cost between $300 million and $500 million.
But building or expanding a reservoir takes a lot of time and research. Experts don’t expect anything to be built and functioning for at least 11 years. Some city councillors say that’s simply too long.
“There is a huge flood risk and now re-recognize the reality of a flood,” councillor Druh Farrel said. “We need an overall waster shed policy for the City of Calgary and I’m going to push until we get there.”
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